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Embassy of Kazakhstan to Canada Weekly News Review

October 24-29, 2016

Issue No. 192

POLITICS

Nazarbayev Visits Saudi Arabia, Strengthens Ties

Kazakh, Turkish Foreign Ministers Discuss Partnership in Almaty

American Diplomats Visit EXPO 2017 Site

ECONOMY AND BUSINESS

Kazakhstan among Top Global Improvers in 2017 Doing Business Report

US seeks to strengthen energy security with Kazakhstan

Building Low Enriched Uranium Bank at Ulba Metallurgical Plant to Cost $150 million

Kazakhstan harvested 23.6 mln tonnes grains

CULTURE, SOCIETY AND SPORTS

Kazakh Mountaineering Legend Coaches New Generation of Alpinists

Kazakhstan Introduces Protections for Citizens Traveling Abroad

Kazakhstan’s Future to Build on Its Links with the Past

POLITICS

Nazarbayev Visits Saudi Arabia, Strengthens Ties

Astana Times, 26 October 2016

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev held talks with His Majesty Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, met Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and prayed in the Prophet’s Muhammad Mosque in Madinah during an Oct. 24-25 visit to Saudi Arabia.

Contracts worth around US$200 million were signed, as well as agreements on cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for civil purposes, extradition and transfer of convicted criminals were signed.

According to Akorda’s press service, the head of state met with Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud and newly appointed President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Bandar bin Mohammed bin Hamza Asaad Al Hajjar.

At the meeting with Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani, Nazarbayev discussed ways of further enhancing Kazakhstan’s interaction with the organisation. The two noted the importance of promoting the development of the Islamic Organization of Food Security (IOFS), which was created by Nazarbayev’s initiative last April in Astana. Today the organization has support of 32 member-states of the OIC. Madani expressed support for Nazarbayev’s other initiatives to resolve regional conflicts.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani (L) and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (R)

Discussed with Al Hajjar cooperation between Kazakhstan and the IDB, the Kazakh leader noted the IDB contributions to the development of Kazakhstan’s economy and national welfare, referring specifically to joint projects exceeding $1.3 billion. In 2015 alone, the IDB funded four projects worth $665 million. Al Hajjar said he looks forward to continued cooperation between the IDB and Kazakhstan.

Nazarbayev also met with the heads of leading, global-level Saudi companies and noted that Saudi Arabia is one of Kazakhstan’s main Middle Eastern partners. The president noted that bilateral trade volume by the end of 2015 was $16.3 million and welcomed the fact that 17 enterprises with Saudi participation operate in Kazakhstan, inviting more businesses from the Kingdom to seek presence in the Central Asian country.

Nazarbayev pointed out promising areas of bilateral economic cooperation, including mining and metallurgical complex, petrochemistry, agriculture, the nuclear industry, finance and Islamic banking, and highlighted Astana’s efforts to create more favourable conditions for business and investments. For example, an investor is exempted from corporate income tax and land tax for 10 years and property tax for eight years, he said.

The president also briefed the company heads on Kazakhstan’s large-scale privatisation of state companies. About 800 state enterprises, totalling $10 billion were exposed to be transferred into the competitive environment. We support the Saudi companies participating in the ongoing privatisation [in Kazakhstan], he added.

At the same time, Nazarbayev briefed Saudi business leaders on the activities of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) and new opportunities emerging from the Kazakh capital’s hosting of the upcoming international specialised exhibition EXPO 2017.

The business people noted Nazarbayev’s contributions to creating a favourable investment climate in Kazakhstan and expressed readiness to develop cooperation in various areas of economy, including agriculture, oil refining, metallurgy and nuclear energy.

As reported by Kazinform news agency, ten contracts worth around US$200 million were signed, including on joint projects in oil and gas industry, metallurgy, chemical industry, as well as construction of a poultry factory in South Kazakhstan, production of food products in the Akmola Oblast.

Because of challenging logistics, trade is not so well developed between our countries. That is why agreed to elaborate a road map and [intensify cooperation through] a bilateral intergovernmental commission and working group on sectoral collaboration A major agreement concerns developing a joint investment fund to finance joint projects in our country, the President said, according to Kazinform.

As part of his stay in the Middle East, previously, on Oct. 21 in Abu Dhabi, Nazarbayev met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. During the conversation, the sides discussed further bilateral cooperation in the political, trade, economic, investment, transit and transportation spheres. The parties also discussed regional and international security.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces (L) and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (R)

Ahead of the visit to Riyadh, the Middle East’s leading business channel CNBC Arabia aired a televised interview with President Nazarbayev, in which he answered questions on Kazakhstan’s stance on various global security issues, including prospects of ending a horrendous war in Syria, as well as the nation’s economic cooperation with the Arab world.

Kazakh, Turkish Foreign Ministers Discuss Partnership in Almaty

Astana Times, 24 October 2016

Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu co-chaired the third session of the Joint Strategic Planning Group Oct. 20 in Almaty.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) and Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov (R)

The parties discussed Kazakh-Turkish cooperation, particularly implementing agreements reached during Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s visits to Turkey in April and May and preparations for the bilateral High Level Strategic Cooperation Council session next year.

Idrissov and Cavusoglu agreed to enhance bilateral trade and economic ties and facilitate the work of the Kazakh-Turkish Intergovernmental Economic Commission.

Under the conditions of persisting difficulties in the global economy, our common objective is to find new ways for increasing the volume of bilateral trade and mutual investments, Idrissov pointed out.

The parties acknowledged the importance of advancing investment collaboration and Idrissov noted the need to hasten the creation of joint Kazakh-Turkish investment and infrastructure foundations to finance large projects within the New Synergy bilateral programme in the sphere of agribusiness, infrastructure, construction, pharmacy, metallurgy and other priority fields.

Idrissov outlined that Kazakhstan is able to act as a regional hub for Turkish productions and companies with further access to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) markets of Central Asia, Russia as well as China.

Free movement of goods, capital, services and working force is guaranteed within the EAEU, therefore, Turkish businesses should consider Kazakhstan as a common market with a population more than 180 million, Idrissov added.

Cavusoglu said Turkish businesses are ready to regularly communicate with Kazakh partners. He congratulated Kazakhstan on the 25th anniversary of independence and highlighted the country’s achievements under President Nazarbayev. The two diplomats also discussed cooperation in tourism, transport and logistics, freight traffic, military-technical and defence industry, fighting extremism and terrorism, as well as Turkey’s participation in EXPO 2017 in Astana.

Idrissov and Cavusoglu also discussed international and regional issues, including Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine. They also discussed strengthening cooperation within multilateral formats, such as the UN, especially, in the context of Kazakhstan’s membership in the UN Security Council for 2017-2018, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Turkic Council and others.

American Diplomats Visit EXPO 2017 Site

Astana Times, 27 October 2016

On Oct.25, an official U.S. delegation led by Thomas Shannon, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, visited the EXPO site and met with Chairman of Astana EXPO 2017 National Company Akhmetzhan Yessimov, reported the press office of the Astana EXPO 2017 national company.

This is my first official meeting, and I think it is a clear message of our intentions. We are going to prepare for the exhibition. I was able to have a look at the pavilion that is designed for the American section. This is a beautiful building and the pavilion, Shannon was reported to have said.

He also highlighted that EXPO 2017 is considered an important element of the relationship between the countries. This is an opportunity to introduce Kazakhstan as a new global player, including in the energy sector, according to him.

Yessimov outlined the importance of the U.S. participation in the exhibition. This year, I visited America twice. I know well about the great job of the United States in the field of renewable energy. It is the leading country in the development of new technologies and cutting-edge scientific research, emphasised the chairman.

At the end of the meeting, Shannon assured that the United States will try to resolve quickly all procedural questions related to the participation of the country in EXPO 2017.

The exhibition will be held in Astana June 10 to Sep. 10, 2017. More than 2 million visitors totaling five million visits are expected. To date, 105 countries have officially confirmed their participation in the exhibition and 101 countries have appointed their commissioners.

ECONOMY AND BUSINESS

Kazakhstan among Top Global Improvers in 2017 Doing Business Report

Astana Times, 27 October 2016

Kazakhstan was among the top 10 improvers in this year’s World Bank Doing Business report, released Oct. 25. Kazakhstan climbed 16 positions since 2015, reaching 35th place in the ranking of the ease of doing business among 190 countries.

Rounding out the 10 most-improved economies were Brunei Darussalam, Kenya, Belarus, Indonesia, Serbia, Georgia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.

This significant improvement has been ensured by four of 10 indicators; namely, by facilitating the procedures for obtaining permits for construction, ease of registering property, improving the protection of the rights of minority investors and contract enforcement. It is a good achievement for Kazakhstan, Senior Partner at the Centre for Strategic Initiatives Olzhas Khudaibergenov told The Astana Times.

According to the World Bank, better performance in the Doing Business ranking generally implies a lower level of income inequality and reduced poverty.

Simple rules that are easy to follow are a sign that a government treats its citizens with respect. They yield direct economic benefits � more entrepreneurship; more market opportunities for women; more adherence to the rule of law, said World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Paul Romer in a statement recently about the bank’s report.

But we should also remember that being treated with respect is something that people value for its own sake and that a government that fails to treat its citizens this way will lose its ability to lead, he added.

The World Bank ranks economies on 10 parameters. Among the report’s categories, Kazakhstan improved its standing in indicators such as dealing with construction permits (leaping from 78th to 22nd place), protecting minority investors (rising 22 places to third) and getting electricity (rising 27 places to 75th). Slight improvements were made in starting a business, trading across borders and resolving insolvency (climbing to 45th, 119th and 37th respectively). At the same time, the economy lost ground in the categories of getting credit and paying taxes and remained unchanged in enforcing contracts.

Dealing with construction permits, the category which showed the most improvement, was facilitated by introducing a single-window system and streamlining procedures. The report covered the city of Almaty but its findings are applied to the entire Kazakh economy.

Kazakhstan enhanced protections for minority investors by introducing stricter requirements for immediate disclosure of related-party transactions to the public, increasing shareholder’s rights and roles in major corporate decisions, clarifying ownership and control structures and requiring more corporate transparency.

The process of getting an electricity connection was simplified by eliminating the need to obtain an official excavation permit and an inspection by the State Energy Supervision Committee. Kazakhstan also shortened the time needed to obtain the technical conditions from the utility company and signing the supply contract.

Starting a business was made simpler by abolishing the requirement to notarise company documents and founders’ signatures.

Trading across borders was made easier by eliminating two export documents previously required for customs clearance.

Kazakhstan made resolving insolvency easier by changing voting procedures for organisation plans and providing protections to creditors who vote against such plans. In addition, creditors were granted greater access to information about debtors during insolvency proceedings and allowed to challenge decisions affecting their rights, the report noted.

More than 40 regulations were adopted in Kazakhstan within the implementation of the five institutional reforms. New measures aim to reduce the time and the number of procedures and tackle corruption. However, it is not enough just to adopt regulations, it is more challenging to ensure the implementation of these changes, said Chair of the Board of the Almaty Development Centre Zhanna Tulegenova in a Facebook post about the new ranking.

Europe and Central Asia have made much more significant improvements in business regulation than any other region. Kazakhstan, Georgia, Macedonia, Belarus, Armenia and Russia have made the most reforms in Europe and Central Asia, carrying out more than 30 reforms each since 2004. Kazakhstan was listed among seven countries in the region to reform across all Doing Business indicators.

This year, Kazakhstan is ranked between Japan and Romania. The country is ahead of Russia (40), Kyrgyzstan (75), China (78) and Uzbekistan (87).

The World Bank ranked New Zealand as the best economy for ease of doing business, followed by Singapore and Denmark.

This year’s Doing Business report includes, for the first time, gender measures in three indicators � starting a business, registering property and enforcing contracts. Europe and Central Asia were the only regions to provide equal opportunities for both women and men to start a business.

US seeks to strengthen energy security with Kazakhstan

Neweurope, 27 October 2016

Washington, wants to strengthen energy security in the region, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of Energy Resources Mary Warlick said in Astana on October 27.

The US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs was just here on Tuesday (October 25) discussing our broad and deep relationship with Kazakhstan. As the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Affairs, I am here to strengthen our already close cooperation on energy security and to participate in the Board Meeting of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Warlick said.

Almost exactly one year ago, in his remarks at Nazarbayev University here in Astana, Secretary of State (John) Kerry noted US support for Kazakhstan joining the World Trade Organization and lauded our broad cooperation on energy issues in the twenty-first century. While declining oil prices have slowed the global economy, it is evident that Kazakhstan is poised to successfully adapt to the changing oil market picture with expanding projects at the Tengiz and Kashagan oil fields. American companies have for many years seen Kazakhstan as an important place to invest, and the United States remains one of the top sources of foreign investment in Kazakhstan, Warlick said.

She said the US is pleased that Kazakhstan signed the Paris Climate Agreement and look forward to its ratification by the end of the year.

With respect to transparency in the energy sector, I would like to congratulate Kazakhstan for being one of the first countries to implement the EITI’s revenue payment transparency procedures, Warlick said.

The United States very much welcomes Kazakhstan’s commitment to energy security and global energy transformation, and we stand ready to work with partners in and out of government who will join us in these efforts, she said.

US seeks to strengthen energy security with Kazakhstan

Building Low Enriched Uranium Bank at Ulba Metallurgical Plant to Cost $150 million

Astana Times, 25 October 2016

Building a low enriched uranium bank on the territory of Ulba Metallurgical Plant (UMP) will cost about $150 million, according to Kazakhstan’s Vice Minister of Energy Bakhytzhan Dzhaksaliyev. The construction of the building for the low enriched uranium bank is scheduled to be completed at the end of May 2017.

According to a schedule, at the end of 2017, we will be accepting a technical mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency that is to make a final decision on placing low enriched uranium on this platform, Dzhaksaliyev told journalists during an expanded meeting of the Committee on International Affairs, Defence and Security on reviewing Kazakhstan’s law titled ‘On ratification of Agreement between the government of Kazakhstan and IAEA on creating a low enriched uranium bank of IAEA’, in the Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament).

The IAEA will bear the cost of creating this bank. There are a number of sponsors, and the overall cost of the project amounts to $150 million. Kazakhstan paid $5 million as a contribution to the IAEA. Our country will also pay for yearly exploitation costs, about $10,000-$12,000 per year, he added.

The physical reserve of uranium will be 90 tonnes. The Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington-based NGO, has contributed $50 million, the U.S. government $49 million, European Union up to 25 million euros (including 5 million euros for modernising physical safety systems), United Arab Emirates $10 million, Kuwait $10 million, Norway $5 million, Kazakhstan $400,000 plus natural contributions, including expenses to maintain the bank.

The safety of storing cylinders with low enriched uranium was discussed in multiple public hearings.

The cylinders are able to withstand an earthquake with a magnitude scale of 10, Deputy Chair of Nuclear and Energy Supervision and Control Committee of Kazakh Ministry of Energy Timur Zhantikin announced during the extended meeting.

According to the speaker, the safety issue bothers the public most of all.

It is worth noting that the highest safety standards in such volume are applied nowhere in the world. This is a valuable experience for Kazakhstan passed from the IAEA. Currently, over 20 technical missions were received on various aspects of nuclear activity, the main issue of which is safety, he commented.

When answering questions on threats of leakage, Zhantikin commented that the cylinders where uranium is to be stored passed many tests.

The cylinders were made in such way that nothing will happen to them during an earthquake with a magnitude scale of 10. They were developed especially for storing uranium fluoride and its transportation, he noted.

Cylinders withstand bumps in a train collision in its full operation, half an hour of fire or drowning at a depth of 30 metres. They are checked for all emergency and extreme cases and will be inspected every year and undergo certification every five years. Therefore, residents of Eastern Kazakhstan may rest calm, the speaker concluded.

Kazakhstan harvested 23.6 mln tonnes grains

Finchannel.com, 27.10.2016

According to regional agricultural departments, as of October 27 Kazakh agrarians harvested grains throughout 15.34 mln ha, or 99.9% of the planned areas, declared the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

As of the reporting date, agrarians produced 23.63 mln tonnes of grains, an increase of nearly 3.9 mln tonnes compared with the same date last year. The average yield totaled 1.54 t/ha (up 0.2 t/ha).

In particular, agrarians of North Kazakhstan oblast harvested 5.651 mln tonnes of grains, Akmola oblast � 5.701 mln tonnes, Kostanay oblast � 5.613 mln tonnes, and Almata oblast � 1.243 mln tonnes, according to APK-Inform.

http://www.finchannel.com/~finchannel/business/60902-kazakhstan-harvested-23-6-mln-tonnes-grains

CULTURE, SOCIETY AND SPORTS

Kazakh Mountaineering Legend Coaches New Generation of Alpinists

Astana Times, 24 October 2016

Sport climbing has been officially included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The Kazakh Mountaineering and Climbing Federation has received Olympic status and will now begin preparing athletes to participate in the Games.

The Astana Times spoke with Kazbek Valiyev, the first Kazakh alpinist to conquer Mount Everest and president of the federation, to learn about its current activities and the country’s climbing achievements.

The foundation has a long history of more than 60 years, said Valiyev, who is also a Kazakh honoured mountaineering coach. We conduct activities in mountaineering and sport climbing in the country; among them the biggest competition is the Kazakhstan championship in these sports. We also organise the cup tournaments for youth and children. In addition, the national team participates in international competitions including the Russian Youth Championships, World Championships and Climbing World Cups.

The country holds more than 40 annual competitions in mountaineering and rock climbing. Climbing is divided into artificial rock climbing and indoor climbing.

Kazakh athletes won three golds, three silvers and one bronze medal at the Asian Youth Championship in Tehran. It is scheduled to take part in the youth world championship in China in November.

The Eurasia Mountaineering Championship among Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Ukraine was held at Shymbulak as part of the Almaty Mount Fest. The Kazakh team won the gold medal, the Russians took second place and the Ukrainians were third among the men’s teams.

A unique international festival, Almaty Mount Fest was imitated by the Kazakh Geographic Society and held for the first time Sept. 9-11 in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. It attracted more than 4,000 people.

The event featured different types of mountain sports including climbing, mountain biking, climbing and descending into the Talgar Gorge and uphill sprint or the so-called sky running. We also held Olympiniada. About 1,000 young people took part in climbing to the top of a 4,127-metre height, he said.

The federation provided guides and instructors, a rescue squad and route planning with the support of the emergency situations committee.

Everything was interesting enough and the weather was relatively good. I suppose the festival was a complete success. I hope now it will be held annually. Currently, the decision to organise the Mount Fest at the beginning of September 2017 is under consideration, he added.

The federation is thinking about hosting the International Indoor Climbing Championship, which will require constructing an 18-20 metre climbing wall like the artificial rock near Almaty to organise various competitions at the same time.

Valiyev also heads Khan Tengri Expeditions, which offers different types of active recreation such as mountain hiking and biking, tours and trips to the best spots in the Almaty region.

Almaty Mount Fest

Youngsters begin by competing in indoor rock climbing and advance to mountain climbing as they grow. Children six and older are admitted to participate in the competitions and can be officially engaged in mountaineering at 16.

We have special schools for mountaineering instructors. Every year, around 15-20 instructors are enrolled. Then, the instructors work with novice climbers and youth. I believe anyone can become a good climber. Hard work combined with good physical training are required, he said.

The alpinists go for long expeditions lasting weeks and months. Climbing contributes enormously to developing the best qualities in people such as willpower, discipline and persistence. Communing with nature also evokes many positive emotions.

Valiyev recalled climbing Mount Everest as a member of the Soviet Union team.

We climbed from the southwest wall to a 2,500-metre height, he said. This route is still considered to be the most difficult. No one could repeat this route. Only 11 people among 16 were able to climb to the top. This was the best result for the world’s mountaineering.

Valiyev feels mountains are generally the most beautiful things on earth.

We have various types of mountains and there are no mountains with similar forms. There are huge glaciers and beautiful gorges, rocks and plateaus and it all looks beautiful, especially at sunrise and sunset. The colours change in the daytime as well as your feelings. You get a great emotional impact from being in the mountains, he added.

Climbing brings joy and happiness when you are prepared physically and mentally. There are beginner climbing peaks and top mountains for highly-skilled climbers.

The highest point in Kazakhstan is the peak of the Tien Shan mountain range � Khan Tengri (7,010 m). Climbing Khan Tengri needs good preparation. There are 14 peaks higher than 8,000 metres which are the ultimate dream of every climber, he said.

Kazakhstan Introduces Protections for Citizens Traveling Abroad

Astana Times, 25 October 2016

Kazakhstan has introduced a system of guarantee of the rights of citizens in the field of outbound tourism, according to Director of the Department of Tourism Industry of Kazakh Ministry for Investments and Development Marat Igali.

On October 18, 2016 the government of Kazakhstan approved draft regulations governing the transport of Kazakh tourists in cases of unfair performance or non-performance of duties by tour operators, he wrote on his page in Facebook.

He also noted that in recent years, the cases increased, when due to unscrupulous tour operators Kazakh tourists stayed in foreign countries without paid accommodations and/or a return ticket.

But after governmental regulations enter into force, such incidents will be promptly resolved. The Corporate Fund Turist?k Kamkor will take measures for the transport of Kazakh tourists from the country of temporary stay back to Kazakhstan.

The system requires the mandatory bank guarantee: for tour operators � 5,000 MCI (monthly calculated index), which is US$31,937. For charterers the amount is 15,000 MCI (US$95,811).

To help Kazakh tourists to come back, there is a special account, which is formed from payments in the amount of 0.5 MCI (US$3.19) from each tourist product generated by the tour operator or charterer. This amount will be mandatory to pay when buying a tourist package.

Earlier, the projects were considered and approved by the Tourism Council, the Interdepartmental Commission on the Regulation of Business Activity, Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan and accredited associations.

In this regard, the Department of Tourism Industry of the Ministry for Investments and Development of Kazakhstan calls for attention of citizens of Kazakhstan on the need to clarify information on the availability of the contract concluded between the tour operator that has formed a tourism product and Corporate Fund Turist?k Kamkor while purchasing tourism products, wrote Igali.

These innovations will be put into effect upon expiration of ten calendar days after their first official publication.

Kazakhstan’s Future to Build on Its Links with the Past

Astana Times, 25 October 2016

A quarter of a century may seem like a short time for most nations. But for Kazakhstan, the last 25 years have undoubtedly been the most significant for its people.

The 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence is an ideal time to reflect on how the country has transformed over this period. Economically, Kazakhstan can be considered a success story. It has transformed into a market economy and has done so while ensuring growth and prosperity for its citizens. Living standards have improved substantially, wages have risen and Kazakhstan is now considered an upper-middle-income country. Politically, Kazakhstan has undergone a speedy transition. Democracy has taken root in a land that hasn’t known well-established democracy at any time in its three-thousand-year history.

This swift transformation has undoubtedly led to cultural changes that are now reflected in modern Kazakhstan, a nation that is home to more than 100 ethnicities. But given how quickly these changes took place, it is not surprising that contemporary Kazakh culture incorporates new and traditional aspects. In order to truly understand Kazakh culture, one needs to examine the country’s history. As the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said: We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future.

Unfortunately, the history of Kazakhstan is filled with challenging moments. For many centuries, the Kazakh nomads had to fight and defend their land from invaders, including Arabs, Turks, Mongols and the Chinese. To this day, the Kazakh people still honour many of the war heroes of the past.

The Kazakhs also faced hardship during the period of Soviet rule, including collectivisation that resulted in mass starvation, and the Second World War, during which approximately 660,000 Kazakhs lost their lives defending their families and land against Nazi Germany. During the post-war period, Kazakhstan’s land was also used as a testing ground for nuclear weapons, which had, and continues to have, a direct impact on the health of approximately 200,000 local residents. However, despite the sadness that one feels when thinking about these periods in Kazakh history, perhaps it is worth noting that these hardships have instilled the Kazakh people with qualities, such as fortitude, courage, patriotism and dedication. These are some of the traits that remain persistent in modern Kazakhstan. It is the knowledge that previous generations have sacrificed so much for this land that has led to the endurance of a culture that values family, strong communities, as well as the respect for elder people. Struggle and hardship brings people closer together. Kazakhstan has been the perfect example of this.

While these traditional aspects of Kazakh culture continue to be an integral part of this country’s identity, there is no doubt that the new generation, which did not live through the Soviet rule, is instilled with new ways of thinking. A new group of entrepreneurs, scientists and artists is emerging to lead in the next quarter century. This visionary generation, which is not chained to the old Soviet mentality and did not experience first-hand the economic hardships and horrific historical tragedies that their parents and grandparents had to suffer, is the fuel that propels Kazakhstan towards new achievements and future ambitions. They live under a free market economy, which allows them to come up with creative business ideas that will drive and develop the country’s economy. They enjoy a stable political system and a harmonious society, which means that they are filled with optimism and the belief that, through hard work and ambition, they can have a major positive impact on Kazakhstan and its people.

It is vital for this new generation to remember the country’s past. The combination of the traditional and new culture is what makes Kazakhstan so unique. It is the foundation on which a growing, prosperous nation with a bright future will continue to be built.

Source: Embassy of Kazakhstan in Canada

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